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City’s Mobility Department Hopes To Have Zero Traffic-Related Injuries Starting In 2018

Allyson Ruggieri
90.5 WESA

The head of Pittsburgh's Department of Mobility and Infrastructure has ambitious goals for 2018.

Karina Ricks wants to improve the city's street design and increase overall liveability next year to make Pittsburgh a safe place to live, work and walk. 

"The priorities are really to work toward what we call a 'vision zero plan,'" Ricks said. "We want to achieve zero traffic-related injuries or fatalities on our public streets, and that begins with making our streets much safer for all users."

Ricks said the most vulnerable populations on Pittsburgh's streets are pedestrians, the elderly and minors. By improving street design, Ricks said the city can become accessible to all.

This past year, design updates were made on Forbes Avenue in Oakland and Liberty Avenue downtown to streamline traffic and increase safety. The Liberty Avenue installments will be reviewed in 2019 to determine if they made a difference.

Another priority for the department next year is to cement policies regarding autonomous vehicles.

"So that we can get ahead of that disruptive technology as it begins to really take root and expand in our city," she said.

Ricks said the city is in the beginning stages of working with services including Uber and Lyft to ease congestion and reduce environmental impact. Uber's autonomous vehicles have operated on Pittsburgh roads since 2016.

"We're working toward establishing a partnership," she said. "Working toward really having initiatives and measurements and programs that would create a closer working relationship than has ever really existed."

Officials with Uber confirmed that the company is in talks with the city, saying in a statement, "We are in active conversations with the city on a number of initiatives to address their mobility challenges, and we are eager to continue partnering with other local leaders and nonprofits to benefit Pittsburgh."

Neither the city, nor Uber offered specifics on what the partnership will entail. However, Uber officials said the company plans to collaborate with the city on mobility, environmental issues and education.